Drowning Differential Diagnoses

Updated: Oct 21, 2021
  • Author: G Patricia Cantwell, MD, FCCM; Chief Editor: Joe Alcock, MD, MS  more...
  • Print

Diagnostic Considerations

Secondary causes of drowning should always be considered. Consider child abuse in young children who are the victims of submersion injury in bathtubs, buckets, or other shallow water receptacles.

Other problems to consider include the following:

  • Head trauma

  • Cervical spine injury

  • Arrhythmia

  • Seizure

  • Baric injury, including air embolism

  • Hypoglycemia

  • Suicide

  • Homicide

  • Hazing

  • Gang initiation

  • Marine envenomation, including Cnidarian, cone shell, stonefish

Differential Diagnoses